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Liriodendron tulipifera—known as the tulip tree, American tulip tree, tuliptree, tulip poplar, whitewood, fiddletree, and yellow-poplar—is the Western Hemisphere representative of the two-species genus Liriodendron, and the tallest eastern hardwood. It is native to eastern North America from Southern Ontario and Illinois eastward to southeastern Massachusetts and Rhode Island, and south to central Florida and Louisiana. The tulip tree is the state tree of Indiana, Kentucky, and Tennessee. It is one of the largest of the native trees of the eastern United States and can grow to more than 50 m (160 ft) in virgin cove forests of the Appalachian Mountains. In a rural setting they are more likely to reach 35m (110ft). It is fast-growing, without the common problems of weak wood strength and short lifespan often seen in fast-growing species. A tree just 15 years old may already reach 12 m (40 ft) in height with no branches within reach of humans standing on the ground.
April marks the start of the flowering period in the southern USA (except as noted below); trees at the northern limit of cultivation begin to flower in June. Trees grow best in deep well-drained loam which has thick dark topsoil. Most tulip trees have low tolerance of drought, although Florida natives (especially the east central ecotype) fare better than southeastern coastal plain or northern inland specimens.
Type: Hardy tree, native
Height: 35 m, 110 feet or more. Great tree due to little to no lower branches.
Hardiness zones: 4-9
Seeds per pack: 10 (previously 5)
Germination: Start these seeds right away to preserve viability, no matter the time of year. Soak the seeds in water for 12-24 hours before planting. Sow the seeds just under the surface of a sterile seed-start mix, and water in. Then cover them with plastic and place in a fridge for 10-12 weeks. Be sure they stay moist. After the cold stratification period they are then brought back to room temperature for them to germinate. Germination is generally within 60 days after the warming period, though they could take a few months.
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